News & Commentary

September 10, 2020

Minnie Che

Minnie Che is a student at Harvard Law School.

On August 31, approximately 45 percent of the Andover Education Association, whose members consist of teachers, guidance counselors, and social workers, refused to come into a school building for an in-person professional development training.  Instead, the educators remained outside of the building and participated in the training outdoors. This action was a demonstration of the teachers’ union’s concerns about workplace safety and the health implications of requiring members to go to work or attend trainings inside school buildings.  The Andover School Committee filed a petition with the Department of Labor for an investigation of the strike. On Tuesday, the state labor relations board ruled that the teachers participated in an illegal strike because “the union cites to no legislation, permission, reasonable accommodation or bargained-for agreement that permitted its members without consequence, to unilaterally dictate where they perform their work.”  The board found that the union unlawfully encouraged and condoned the strike. In its decision, the board noted that union members who refused to enter the building for the training did not receive proper instruction on activities such as Wi-Fi testing, wayfinding, classroom set up and tagging furniture. This decision comes as Andover public schools set to begin a hybrid learning plan next week. The protest against the start of in-person school this fall due to safety reasons is shared by other teachers in Massachusetts, such as the Sharon Teachers Association and the Lawrence Teachers Union.

Following up on yesterday’s post about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s announcement of a coronavirus bill, one notable piece missing from what Democrats are calling a “skinny” bill is a second round of stimulus checks. It also does not mention state aid. The new proposal drastically reduces aid from the $1.3 trillion plan, the HEALS Act, that the Senate GOP offered in July and even further from the House Democrats’ $3 billion aid plan as part of the HEROES Act. The bill is not expected to pass the vote, and chances for a bipartisan bill for new economic stimulus seem slim. McConnell has accused Democrats of not wanting any bipartisan relief for American families, while Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer believes the GOP proposal is indicative that Republicans do not see the true damage happening in the nation. This has prompted White House officials to consider executive actions that will directly fund groups like the airline industry and increase unemployment benefits and money for school vouchers. Negotiations are reported to be currently underway for a spending bill known as a continuing resolution to prevent the government from shutting down in October. 

Biden’s proposed tax plan will create a tax penalty for American companies that offshore jobs and will reward investments in U.S. based manufacturing. Yesterday, Biden spoke to the United Auto Workers members in Michigan, where he announced his new jobs plan that will provide tax benefits for those that invest in manufacturing opportunities to employ more U.S. workers. The plan calls for a 28 percent corporate tax rate and an additional 10 percent tax for offshore profits. Further, a 10 percent tax credit will be provided to companies for eligible investments designed to create more manufacturing jobs in the United States, such as the reopening of closed plants, relocation of job sites back to the United States, or investment in new equipment that will bring about more jobs. In the same speech and hours after Bob Woodward previewed his new book titled “Rage”, Biden accused Trump of betraying the American people by downplaying the true threat posed by the coronavirus and attacking Trump on his economic policies that include “corporate tax giveaways.”

On Labor Day, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed new legislation that requires state and local governments, including school districts, to design a plan for future state emergencies involving a communicable disease. The goal of the legislation is to protect essential workers in the event of another state emergency in connection with a health crisis. Cuomo stated that, “The federal government’s failure to plan for or respond to this emergency put our state in harm’s way, and we can never let that happen again. That’s why this Labor Day, we are honoring public employees’ efforts over the last six months by planning for the next emergency — and ensuring all levels of government in New York protect public workers from a future pandemic.” The details of the plan will include a list of essential positions, protocol for non-essential workers, what happens when an employee is exposed, documentation of work hours and locations, amongst others. 

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